On 2 January 2015, Palestine acceded to the Rome Statute, allowing the International Criminal Court (ICC) jurisdiction in the occupied Palestinian territories. The following week UN Secy.-Gen. Ban Ki-moon announced that Palestine would join the ICC officially on 1 April 2015. Membership will provide the court jurisdiction to identify and prosecute crimes committed in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem since 13 June 2014, enabling Palestine to pursue war crimes charges against Israel for its summer assault on Gaza, which theUNestimates led to over 1,400 Palestinian civilian deaths.
The United States strongly condemned Palestine’s pursuance of ICC membership, with members of Congress threatening to cut aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) upon its first petition to the court. Israel, for its part, responded by withholding $127 million in tax revenue it collects on behalf of the PA, some two-thirds of the PA’s monthly budget. (Israel’s tax freeze was ongoing at the end of the quarter.)
Presented below are highlights of the ICC’s announcement of a preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine. In the statement, the court explains that preliminary examinations are broad and do not follow a specific timeline, and notes that some of the current preliminary investigations date back as far as 2006. In addition, it outlines the court’s decision to accept the status of Palestine as a state. The full statement can be found at www.icc-cpi.int.